Exam Board: Edexcel

What does the course cover?

There are four elements to the new A-level course.

  1. Paper 1 – Physical geography (30% of the overall A-level)

The physical paper consists of 4 units taught over the two year course:

Year 12

  • Landscapes systems, processes and change (coasts)

Landscapes are increasingly threatened from physical processes and human activities, and there is a need for holistic and sustainable management of these areas in all the world’s coasts.

  • Tectonic processes and hazards

An in-depth understanding of the causes of tectonic hazards is key to both increasing the degree to which they can be managed, and putting in place successful responses that can mitigate social and economic impacts and allow humans to adapt to hazard occurrence.

Year 13

  • The water cycle and water insecurity

Water plays a key role in supporting life on earth. Water insecurity is becoming a global issue with serious consequences and there is a range of different approaches to managing water supply.

  • The carbon cycle and energy security

A balanced carbon cycle is important in maintaining planetary health. Changes to the most important stores of carbon and carbon fluxes are a result of physical and human processes. Reliance on fossil fuels has caused significant changes to carbon stores and contributed to climate change resulting from anthropogenic carbon emissions. The water and carbon cycles and the role of feedbacks in and between the two cycles, provide a context for developing an understanding of climate change.

  1. Paper 2 – Human geography (30% of the overall A-level)

Year 12

  • Shaping places

Local places vary economically and socially with change driven by local, national and global processes. Urban and rural regeneration programmes involving a range of players involve both place making (regeneration) and place marketing (rebranding). Regeneration programmes impact variably on people both in terms of their lived experience of change and their perception and attachment to places.

  • Globalisation

Globalisation and global interdependence continue to accelerate, resulting in changing opportunities for businesses and people. Inequalities are caused within and between countries as shifts in patterns of wealth occur. Cultural impacts on the identity of communities increase as flows of ideas, people and goods take place. Recognising that both tensions in communities and pressures on environments are likely, will help players implement sustainable solutions.

Year 13

  • Superpowers

Superpowers can be developed by a number of characteristics. The pattern of dominance has changed over time. Superpowers and emerging superpowers have a very significant impact on the global economy, global politics and the environment. The spheres of influence between these powers are frequently contested, resulting in geopolitical implications.

  • Health, Human Rights and Intervention.

Traditional definitions of development are based largely on economic measures but have been increasingly challenged by broader definitions based on environmental, social and political quality of life with many new measures used to record progress at all scales in human rights and human welfare. There are variations in the norms and laws of both national and global institutions that impact on decisions made at all scales, from local to global. These decisions lead to a wide range of geopolitical interventions via international and national policies, from development aid through to military campaigns. The impact of geopolitical interventions on both human health and wellbeing and human rights is variable and contested, with some groups appearing to benefit disproportionately, which can lead to increasing inequalities and injustice.

This paper is worth 30% of the overall A-level

  1. Paper 3 – Synoptic themes (20% of overall A-level)

Synoptic assessment of geographical skills, knowledge and understanding (within a place-based context) from compulsory content drawn from different parts of the course.

The Synoptic assessment requires students to work across different parts of a qualification and to show their accumulated knowledge and understanding of a topic or subject area. The Synoptic assessment enables students to show their ability to combine their skills, knowledge and understanding with breadth and depth of the subject. The specification contains three synoptic themes within the compulsory1 content areas:

  • Players
  • Attitudes and actions
  • Futures and uncertainties.
  1. Non-Examined Assessment (NEA) – Independent Investigation

A compulsory (student funded) minimum of four day residential fieldtrip is required to be able to pass this course. The purpose of this non-examination assessment is to test students’ skills in independent investigation. Students are required to undertake an independent investigation that involves (but which need not be restricted to) fieldwork. The focus of the investigation must be derived from the specification the student is studying. The guidance for word length is 3000-4000 words. The student defines a question or issue relating to the compulsory or optional content. The student’s investigation will incorporate fieldwork data (collected individually or as part of a group) and own research and/or secondary data. The student’s report will evidence independent analysis and evaluation of data, presentation of data findings and extended writing.